Legislation championed by Democrats will make major change for Virginia families
RICHMOND, Va. — As the General Assembly marks the midpoint of the 2023 legislative session with crossover today, Freedom Virginia is highlighting key pieces of legislation that will make life more affordable for hardworking Virginians who are battling rising costs across the Commonwealth.
Prescription Drug Affordability Board
Bill: SB 957
Status: Passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support (26-13), heading to the House
The Prescription Drug Affordability Board legislation, SB 957, would create a small, independent group of health care experts to analyze the affordability of a limited number of the most burdensome high-priced prescription drugs and institute reasonable limits to protect consumers from harmful price-gouging. The proposal builds on legislation passed in 2021 to create transparency in prescription drug prices, and would follow the success of seven other states, including neighboring Maryland, that have created similar prescription drug affordability boards under Democratic and Republican governors alike. In 2022 alone, drug companies hiked the price of more than 1,200 drugs by an average of 31.6% – about four times the rate of inflation. The bill would complement the Inflation Reduction Act by empowering Virginia to take action for the other 7.5 million Virginians who are not on Medicare. In addition, state and local governments will save millions on the cost of prescription drugs, which have increased 20% in two years, costing the Commonwealth more than $2.4 billion in fiscal year 2022. A Mason-Dixon poll showed that 82% of Virginians – including wide bipartisan majorities – support the establishment of a PDAB, while 56% of Virginians have personally felt the negative effect of the rising cost of medicine.
- Virginia Mercury: Senate OKs drug affordability board bill opposed by Youngkin administration
- Richmond Times Dispatch: Prescription Drug Affordability Board bill clears Senate
- WDBJ: Doctors call for prescription drug affordability board
- The Cardinal: [OP-ED authored by Delegate Sam Rasoul]: A Prescription Drug Affordability Board would lower prescription costs
Affordable Energy Act
Status: SB 1321 passed the Senate unanimously (40-0), heading to the House. HB 1604 is on its third read for final floor passage today.
Virginians are paying more for their electricity than they should. Electric monopolies are overcharging Virginia families by hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power have reported nearly $2 billion in overcharges since 2009. In the SCC’s most recent review of Dominion Energy’s rates, evidence showed the company was overcharging customers by more than $200 million per year between 2017 and 2020. But due to a law passed in 2018, the SCC could only lower Dominion’s rates by $50 million per year. It should come as no surprise, then, that the company overcharged customers by $152 million in 2021. This legislation will restore the SCC’s authority to protect families from price-gouging by big utility companies.
- Roanoke Times: Commentary: The Affordable Energy Act will lower energy rates in Virginia
- WRIC: Virginia seeks power to enforce rate caps on Dominion, other utilities
- WSET: Virginia organization urges lawmakers to pass Affordable Energy Bill
Paid Family and Medical Leave
Bill: SB 1101
Status: On its third reading for floor passage today
The bill would set up a self-funded program, like unemployment insurance, with a portion of the cost paid by employers and another paid through deductions from employees’ paychecks. Paid family and medical leave gives families paid time off to care for a new child, themselves or a family member when they are facing a serious health condition – without sacrificing economic security. Lack of paid leave disproportionately impacts Black and Latinx families. 84% of voters want a national paid family and medical leave plan for all workers.
- Richmond Times Dispatch: Paid family leave is moving, after years of effort, in the assembly
Affordable Housing, zoning and study
Status: SB839 passed the Senate unanimously (40-Y 0-N). SB1141 passed the Senate with bipartisan support, (23-Y 17-N). Both bills are now heading to the House.
The cost of housing has increased faster than the rate of inflation in the past five years, and it’s causing strain on our communities. In 2022, one in every three Virginians spends over thirty percent of their hard earned income on housing. These bills will create more housing stock and push our government to do more substantial research to prevent this crisis from growing.
- Richmond Times Dispatch: [OP-ED authored by Delegate Rodney Willett] Column: The housing crisis requires bipartisan solutions
- WRIC: Virginia House delays expansion of local affordable housing programs | WRIC ABC 8News